Home gas and electric cost may increase

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — How much you pay for gas and electric service could change soon. 

State lawmakers are considering a proposal that will make it easier for utilities to pass along their costs to customers.
It's known as Senate Bill 560.

One part of the bill would make it possible for gas or electric companies to raise its rates, without a rate hearing in front of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. It's called tracking. 

Gas, electric or both, is the lifeblood of Hoosier Industry and home, but keeping that power flowing freely costs plenty of money. So the state's utilities want to be able pass along the cost of replacing or improving power lines and pipelines more quickly, without a full blown rate hearing.

"It has to have notice and comment and hearing,” says Senator Brandt Hershman, who is the sponsor of the bill. “It has to be found by the commission to be reasonable and necessary.”

Hershman says the IURC would still have to approve any rate increase. The state's big manufacturing companies, like Eli Lilly and Rolls-Royce, which employ thousands of Hoosiers, fear the bill would add to already rising electric rates.  

They are represented by the Indiana Industrial Energy Consumers.  Jennifer Terry is their spokeswoman. 

"If a plant here in Indiana is not competitive then that investment, those jobs will go to other facilities in other states and other countries,” Terry said.

Originally opposed to the bill, after 12 amendments, the big manufacturers are now neutral on it. 

Several Hoosier Consumer groups still don't like it. 

"We're talking about five investor owned companies, three of whom had 2012 earnings in excess of one billion dollars," says Kerwin Olson, executive director of Citizens Action Coalition.

"Who should finance these investments,” Olson questions. “The folks with the resources? The ability to do it, not only do they have cash in the bank, they have access to capital.”

Olson says those who can't afford it will be hit hardest.

"It's inappropriate, it's immoral, it's unethical," he says. 

But those representing the utilities say this will actually help you because it will allow them to increase your bills slowly over time, instead of getting hit with a big increase all at once. 

Both sides say there are ways to find a balance, which they say they hope to do as the bill makes its way through the statehouse. 

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They should not be able to do things like that without going thru the proper channels and consideration of the people it effects. It is hard enough pay the bills now as it is with everything going up!!!!!!!
These companies are getting enough of our hard earned money!!! I don't want to give them any more!!

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